One in four UK children will be living in poverty by 2020, says thinktank

One in four children in
Britain – 3.4 million – will be
in relative poverty by 2020,
the Institute for Fiscal Studies
(IFS) has warned.
In a report , conducted for the
Northern Ireland executive
but held to describe the
position in the UK as a
whole, the IFS says "tax and
benefit reforms introduced
since April 2010 can account
for almost all of the increases
in child poverty projected
over the next few years".
The shakeup will result in
another 600,000 children
falling into relative poverty
during this parliament, with
this figure rising by more
than 1 million by 2020, the
IFS says. The jump will result
in Britain missing binding
targets to reduce child
poverty by 2020. The target
was to reduce child poverty to
one in 10, or fewer, of all
children, or about 1.3
million.
The IFS, the country's leading
public finance thinktank,
warns that "it seems
impossible the targets set out
in the Child Poverty Act could
be met", and recommends the
government now needs to
"reveal a credible plan for
meeting the targets it has
signed up to; or that it sets
different objectives, which
reflect its view of what is
both desirable and
achievable".
In the report, which was
conducted for the Northern
Ireland executive but
considered a pan-UK position,
the institute says warns the
coalition that "tax and benefit
reforms introduced since
April 2010 can account for
almost all of the increases in
child poverty projected over
the next few years".
It also discounts the idea that
the government's welfare
reforms would be able to
change poverty levels.:
"Despite the impact of
universal credit, the overall
impact of reforms introduced
since April 2010 is to increase
the level of income poverty in
each and every year from
2010 to 2020."
In an update to work first
done in October 2011, the IFS
considered the spectrum of
welfare changes and
calculated that the number of
children in absolute poverty
in 2015 would rise by
900,000 to 3 million. By
2020, 3.4 million young
people – about one in four
children – will find
themselves in relative
poverty. This represents an
increase of 1.1 million on the
figures for 2011.
In percentage terms, the IFS
says relative child poverty
will rise by 6% between
2010–11 and 2020–21 – in
effect reversing all of the
reductions that took place
under Labour between 2000–
01 and 2010–11.
At the end of the decade, rates
of absolute child poverty will
be 27.2%, compared with a
target of 5%. In relative
terms, it will be about 24% in
2020, compared with the goal
of 10% written in law.
Liam Byrne, the shadow
work and pensions secretary,
said: "The IFS verdict is clear
– by both internationally
recognised measures, this
government is set to plunge
over a million children into
poverty by the end of this
decade, undoing all the good
work of the last Labour
government."
Charities warned that a
generation was being failed.
Alison Garnham, of Child
Poverty Action Group, said:
"We always put our
children's needs first in
family life, and we should do
as a nation, too. But today's
dire projections reveal we are
in danger of failing the next
generation. The government
has child poverty targets and
a child poverty strategy
because it knows poverty
destroys life chances and
generates huge costs to our
economy."
A child is considered to be in
relative poverty if he or she
lives in a household whose
income is below 60% of the
average in that year, and in
absolute poverty if he or she
lives in a household whose
real-terms income is below
60% of the 2010-11 average –
a period set as a benchmark
in this year's Child Poverty
Act.
The work and pensions
secretary, Iain Duncan Smith,
has argued for a new
definition of child poverty to
take address account of
parental problems such as
drug addiction, education and
unemployment.
This change of tactics has
influential critics. Alan
Milburn, chair of the
government's commission on
social mobility and child
poverty, said last month that
he did not "think there is a
cat in hell's chance that the
2020 [child poverty] target
will be hit. Most people, even
if they don't say it publicly,
know that privately." The
commission is urging Duncan
Smith to reconsider his
controversial ideas to tinker
with the way poverty is
measured, withMilburn
warning that this simply
"conflates the causes of
poverty with the
consequences".
A DWP spokesman said:
"Despite paying out £170bn in
tax credits alone, the
previous government failed to
meet their target to halve
child poverty by 2010 and far
too many children were left
behind. That is why we want
to take a new approach by
tackling the root causes of
poverty including
worklessness, educational
failure and family
breakdown.
"The IFS analysis does not
fully take into account the
dynamic and behavioural
changes that will result from
our welfare reforms. In fact,
the changes under Universal
Credit will make three
million households better off
and lift up to 250,000
children out of poverty."